LONDON – Chris Hughton admits he was "hugely disappointed and surprised" to be sacked by Brighton.
Hughton was axed despite keeping the club in the Premier League and leading them to the FA Cup semi-finals.
The 60-year-old's surprise dismissal came just one day after Brighton's final game of a season in which they finished 17th, two points ahead of third-bottom Cardiff.
"I was hugely disappointed and surprised by the decision that was made to end my time with Brighton and Hove Albion FC," Hughton said in a statement released by the League Managers Association on Wednesday.
"I thoroughly enjoyed my four and a half years managing this special football club. I would like to put on record my gratitude to my coaching staff, the players, fans, everyone connected to the club and the wider community of Brighton & Hove and wish them luck for the future."
Hughton was appointed by the Seagulls in December 2014 and guided them to promotion to the Premier League in 2017, ending the club's 34-year wait to return to the top-flight.
Brighton finished 15th in their first campaign in the Premier League, but Hughton paid the price for a difficult second season in which they won just three of their last 23 league games.
Brighton have hired Graham Potter from Swansea to replace Hughton, who has been linked with the vacant manager's job at second tier West Bromwich Albion.AFP